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SEEsummary | August 2018

In SEEsummary #20:
Developments in July and August  |  Upcoming events

Issue no. 20 of the SEEsummary, published on 31 August 2018, by SEEDIG, in collaboration with DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform. This issue covers Internet governance and digital policy developments that occurred in South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area in July and August 2018. Contributors: Qanita Abedpour, Maja Ćalović, Sabajete Elezaj, Andrijana Gavrilović, Su Sonia Herring, Charalampos Kyritsis, Olga Kyryliuk, Dajana Mulaj, Dušan Stojićević, Oliana Sula. Download .pdf version

Developments in July – August 2018

Telecommunications infrastructure | Domain Name System | Cybersecurity | Convergence | Digital signatures | Access | Capacity development | Development – other | E-money and virtual currencies | E-Commerce | Economic – other issues


Telecommunications infrastructure


‘Kosovo* Digital Economy Project (KODE)’ approved by the World Bank

The World Bank has approved the ‘Kosovo* Digital Economy Project (KODE). The World Bank granted an IDA credit of EUR 20.7 million for 25 years, with a 5-year grace period. The project intends to cover the entire territory of Kosovo* with optical fibre and will connect over 60 thousand persons to the Internet. The main aim of the project is to improve access to better quality and high‐speed broadband services to online knowledge sources, services and labour markets among citizens, and public and academic institutions. The project comprises three components: digital inclusion, digital work and empowerment, and project implementation support.

Cyprus Telecommunications authority launched new fibre optic network

The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) has launched its new fibre optic network, the only national fibre optic network in Cyprus, on 5 July. The Fibre Network by Cyta will enable higher download speeds up to 1Gbps and upload speeds up to 120Mbps. The network will gradually connect up to 180,000 homes and is expected to serve about 130,000 subscribers.

Broadband speed in SEE+ countries stagnating

Cable’s analysis of over 163m broadband speed tests worldwide revealed that broadband speed in SEE+ countries is stagnating. The only country from the SEE+ region to rank better in 2018 is Romania, in 5th place, which is the highest ranked SEE+ country examined. No changes in rank were recorded in Moldova and Greece. In Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine, the Internet speeds recorded were slower than in 2017. Six SEE+ countries ranked among top 50 – Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. The SEE+ country that ranked the lowest was Azerbaijan, in 135th place.


Domain Name System


Greece launched registrations for .ελ domain

The Greek country-code top-level domain registry (ccTLD) – the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) –launched registrations of domain names in the new internationalised ccTLD .ελ domain on 10 July 2018. The registration is available to any interested person or legal entity, as long as the domain name of choice is not already registered under .gr or Three months are given to the .gr domains’ registrants to activate the same domain or its homograph under .ελ, according to the Regulation on Management and Assignment of .gr and .ελ Domain Names. After the three-month period, which ends on 10 October 2018, registrations under .ελ will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

AKEP adds rules for registration and administration of domains

The Authority of Electronic and Postal Communications of Albania (AKEP) has added amendments and additions on the regulation on registration and administration of domain names,,,,, .org.a and AKEP decided to improve the terms and conditions with regard to domain domains deadlines, domain usage terms, avoiding abusive practices associated with the number of domains, rights and obligations of domain registrars , enhancing transparency on AKEP rules for .al domains and subdomains, etc. The new rules set an allowed number of .al domains that can be registered per electronic media portal. However, AKEP clarified that it is additional domain registration is possible with AKEP’s approval, on the condition they are put into operation within one year.




Ukraine adopts 2018 Cybersecurity Strategy Action Plan

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has approved the 2018 Action Plan for the Implementation of the Cybersecurity Strategy. The document includes 18 tasks in the following areas: regulatory support for activities in the field of cybersecurity (harmonisation of legislation on protection of state information resources, identification of requirements for an independent audit of information security of critical infrastructure facilities, determining the criteria and establishing the order of assigning facilities to the facilities of the critical infrastructure of the state, forming a list of such facilities), development of the technological component of the national cybersecurity system; establishment of cooperation with international partners of Ukraine, and establishment of the process of training personnel in the field of cybersecurity.

Montenegro to join NATO’s CCDCOE in 2019

The government of Montenegro has approved the accession of the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro to NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, based in Tallinn, Estonia. Montenegro is expected to join the centre in 2019 with the status of a “sponsoring nation”. Per the Ministry’s statement, by joining the CCDCOE, the Ministry of Defense will have the opportunity to contribute to the fulfilment of tasks from the NATO Agenda, including combating hybrid threats. It is also expected that Montenegro’s capacity to respond to cyber threats will be improved.

Croatia adopts cybersecurity law for critical operators

Croatia has adopted the Cybersecurity Law for key network operators and digital service providers. The aim of the law is to ensure a high level of cyber security in providing services of particular importance for the conduct of key social and economic activities. The law regulates the procedures and measures for achieving this goal, the competences and powers of the relevant bodies, the national contact points, the bodies responsible for prevention and protection against incidents. The sectors affected by the law are energy, banking, transportation, banking sector infrastructure, healthcare, water industry, digital infrastructure, digital services and business services for state bodies.

European Commission issues warnings to member states over cybersecurity legislation

Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania are among 17 EU member states that missed the deadline to transpose the NIS directive into national law. The ‘Directive concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the union’, was adopted in 2016 and was supposed to be fully transposed into national law by member states by 9 May 2018. The European Commission issued warning letters to 17 member states that missed the May deadline and set a new deadline – 9 November 2018. Amongst SEE+ countries that are EU Member States, Slovenia is listed as having fully transposed the directive into national law.




Public procurement in Ukraine will be monitored by AI

Transparency International Ukraine presented a new version of the ProZorro public procurement monitoring system on 19 July. The new system, DOZORRO, will be based on artificial intelligence (AI) capable of independent learning. The AI’s main task will be to assess the risks of each tender. Each tender will be evaluated on a combination of risk factors and the system will identify the questionable ones. The final decision on possible violations will be made by NGOs’ representatives who are members of the DOZORRO community and have been monitoring public procurement for more than a year. The man-made decisions will be the basis for the AI’s future decisions, expected to be highly accurate by the end of 2018.


Digital signatures


Number of e-signatures gradually growing in Azerbaijan

More than 20,000 electronic signature certificates have been issued during first six months of 2018 in Azerbaijan, according to the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan. For the same period last year, the number of issued certificates amounted to 10,582. The biggest number of certificates was requested by the state institutions (6,780), followed by legal entities (9,132), and individuals (4,542). In total, since launching the service Azerbaijan authorities have issued 146,874 certificates. The number of transactions carried out with the e-signature also continues to grow. Since the start of the system of electronic signatures, the total number of authentication and electronic signature operations has exceeded 37.3 million.




Azercell to launch new roaming Internet package

In order to encourage the customers to use data services globally and reduce costs linked to roaming services, Azercell is planning to launch a new Internet Roaming Pack at the beginning of September 2018. The data pack for 14 days will cover Turkey, Russian, Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Moldova. Currently, only 30% of Azercell customers use mobile data when they travel abroad, and the company aims to increase data usage by 80% by the end of 2019. Azercell roaming package will have three pillars: affordability, cost control and simplicity.

Belarus and Russia discussing harmonisation of roaming tariffs

A joint meeting session was held in Smolensk between The Belarusian Communications and Informatisation Ministry and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation to discuss the abolishment of roaming charges in the territory of Union State. The Belarusian ministry officials stated that mobile carriers of the two countries would play a crucial role in harmonising roaming rates. Further work regarding roaming rates harmonisation would be based on the action plan of the roadmap the joint board has created. The efforts seek to reduce roaming-related costs for users, thus increasing business activities and tourism.


Capacity development


Azerbaijan and Microsoft sign an agreement for the purchase of 30,000 licenses for Microsoft software

The Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan has signed a three-year agreement with Microsoft for the purchase of 20,000 software licenses for government agencies and 10,000 licenses for universities. Microsoft also offered the ‘Benefits for students’ programme, which provides free purchase of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office software for students of all higher education institutions in the country. The main objectives of the agreement are to save costs, to improve country’s position in the rating on the protection of intellectual property rights, to develop an innovation ecosystem, to attract foreign investment, and to increase the use of electronic services.


Development – other


SEE+ countries score Very-high and High ESDI in the UN E-Government Survey 2018

The United Nations E-Government Survey 2018: Gearing E-Government to Support Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies was launched on 19 July 2018. The report contains ranking of the United Nations Member States according to E-Government Development Index (ESDI) subgroups – Very-High, High, Middle, and Low. Amongst the SEE+ countries, Belarus, Cyprus, Greece and Slovenia are in the Very-High performing subgroup, with Belarus and Greece joining that group for the first time. Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine are in the High performing group. None of the SEE+ countries was ranked among the top ten performers in 2018. The highest ranking SEE+ country was Greece in 35th place. The report also contains the ranking of UN Member States by Online Services Index, Telecommunications Index, Human Capital Index and E-Participation Index.

Bosnia and Herzegovina to invest nearly BAM 19 million in the digital upgrade of broadcasters

Nearly BAM 19 million (close to EUR 10 million) will be invested in the process of digitization of public service broadcasters in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the proposal of the Ministry of Communications and Transport, the Council of Ministers has adopted a decision on the use of funds, which includes BAM 8.75 million for procurement of the necessary equipment and BAM 10.6 million from the accumulated revenue surplus of the regulator. The funds will go towards the completion of the digitization process, which was supposed to have been finished by mid-2018, but has been stalled by tender procedures.


E-money and virtual currencies


Romania drafts bill to regulate electronic money

The Romanian Ministry of Finance has drafted a bill targeting electronic money. The bill sets the requirement that must be met by an issuer of electronic money for them to operate legally within the country. An issuer should have a minimum of EUR 350,000 worth of share capital. All the members who will be vetted and approved by the National Bank of Romania will go through an individual tax payment history verification including personal legal records. The draft bill further states that there is a validity time of 12 months for the issuer to start the operation. The National Bank of Romania will grant the authorization only if the issuer has a formal framework for the management of the e-money, a solid organizational structure, rigorous accounting and transparency procedures.




Google Pay arrives in Croatia

Google Pay service was made available in Croatia on 1 August 2018. Croatia is the second country in the SEE+ region (after Ukraine), to have access to Google’s mobile payment platform. Google has stated that the reason for introducing Google Pay to Croatia is the high level of digital literacy of Croatian citizens. The service, which offers contactless payment with a smartphone in stores and also online across all Google platforms, is currently available only on Android smartphones and is supported only by Privredna Banka Zagreb Online banking and its Visa Inspire Debit cards.


Economic – other issues


Serbia’s IT industry continues to grow

The Serbian Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali, stated that the IT industry in Serbia is contributing to 10% of the country’s GDP. While in 2017 Serbia’s IT exports amounted to EUR 900 million, the country generated nearly one billion euros. This places the IT sector in the first three major export sectors, in addition to the automotive industry and agriculture.


Upcoming events


September 2018


Kulen Dayz 2018 |31 August – 2 September |Osijek, Croatia

European Dependable Computing Conference (EDCC) |10-14 September |Iasi, Romania

Cyber Defense Week 2018 | 11 September |Pristina, Kosovo

TechVillage (startup event) |11-13 September|Butuceni Village, Moldova

International Workshop on Information & Operational Technology (IOSec) | 13 September | Heraklion, Greece

Digital Influencers Hub | 13-14 September | Thessaloniki, Greece

Balkan Computer Congress (BalCCon) | 14 – 16 September | Novi Sad, Serbia

European Peering Forum 13 |17-19 September | Athens, Greece

Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Ukraine |19 September | Kyiv, Ukraine

DevOpsDays Istanbul | 20 September | Istanbul, Turkey

20th International Symposium on Symbolic and Numeric Algorithms for Scientific Computing (SYNASC 2018) | 20-23 September | Timisoara, Romania

Weekend Media Festival | 20-23 September | Rovinj, Croatia

Idea Knockout 2018 | 27 September | Zagreb, Croatia

Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Azerbaijan | 27 September, Baku, Azerbaijan

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Editorial note

The SEEsummary is produced on a best effort basis, by our team of volunteer editors. Each month, the editors scan local and regional media, as well as websites of public institutions and other organisations, and compile what they find to be some of the most significant digital policy developments.

The SEEsummary does not claim to be a comprehensive source of information. Despite our efforts, we may miss some things happening across the region. To help us cover as many significant developments as possible, we invite you to share with us news from your countries.

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